Instructables
Picture of How to CNC machine a pumpkin (or a random object)
This year (2012) I decided to carve a pumpkin for the first time in my life. I did want to use my big CNC machine (see http://www.instructables.com/id/CNC-machine-for-shaping-large-pieces-of-polystyren/) for doing the actual cutting. I also did want to design the shapes for cutting, by using a 3D design application.

Problem: With pumpkins having large variations in size and shape, it is not easy to design something that will work on a particular fruit. In order to ensure the design will transfer correctly to the individual pumpkin, it would be useful to know where the skin of the pumpkin would be whilst working in the 3D design application.

Solution: Use 123D Catch to create a 3D mesh of the lucky pumpkin, open the mesh in the 3D design software, and use it to ensure the desired cuts will work as intended.

The technique I used works well with pumpkins, but it could also be used for machining into other organic or random shapes.

Enjoy,
Richard Tegelbeckers
 
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Step 1: Place reference marks on pumpkin and take photos

Picture of Place reference marks on pumpkin and take photos
tutorials on 123dapp.png
For alignment and scaling purposes, it is necessary to place some reference marks on the surface of the pumpkin. I applied masking tape, onto which I drew small crosses. Looking back at it, I ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to align the mesh in CAD and trying to align the actual pumpkin on the machine bed. By adding more reference marks at the beginning, the alignment at later stages would have been easier and more accurate.

In terms of taking pictures for use in 123D Catch, I would like to give a little bit of advice. First of all, don't bother spending lots of time building contraptions to automate the picture taking process. I know there are some plans published all over the internet, but I think your time is more wisely spent by studying and understanding the excellent tutorials on the 123D website: http://www.123dapp.com/catch/learn

Catch is very capable and as long as you follow the advice in the tutorials, very good results can be achieved by just using a hand held camera on it's own. One thing I noticed is that a lot of peoples, also some of the guys (m/f) with the automatic-picture-taking devices, only take a series of picture in a circle at a single elevation. The best results, as advised in the tutorials, is achieved by taking pictures at two elevations.
jongscx1 year ago
I'm also actually rather interested in the mill you used, do you have pictures or a link to that?
RTegelbeckers (author)  jongscx1 year ago
Awesome! I love how you are able to layer your pumpkin carving by using CNC :)
RTegelbeckers (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Thanks! I am still trying to get the hang of using CNC, as I am fairly new to it all. So far, carving the pumpkin is the most useful thing I have done with my machine :-)
poofrabbit2 years ago
Now there is a way to get a perfect pumpkin! Nice work!
RTegelbeckers (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
Thanks for your comments, very kind of you!